Connor Selby must have been absolutely thrilled when he awoke the morning following his gig at the Tuesday Night Music Club, in Coulsdon, to discover that he had been nominated in two categories of the 2020 UK Blues Awards; Emerging Artist Of The Year and the Jules Fothergill Young Artist Of The Year.
Connor really impressed when he played at this venue in 2019 and since then this 21 year old young man has found himself on a rollarcoaster. When performing as a supporting act at Under the Bridge in Chelsea, Connor was approached by Bill Curbishley, The Who’s manager, and asked if he would like to open for The Who along with Imelda May, Kaiser Chiefs, and Eddie Vedder at Wembley Stadium……no brainer and he was really well received when he opened proceedings last July.
Following the success of his support slot for The Who he was also selected as a special guest on their forthcoming UK tour.
Connor had a very strong band in tow; the ever smiling Rob Shearer on drums, Fergie Fulton the father figure on bass and Joe Anderton on guitar, lap steel, tambourine and vocals. Really tight unit that has developed nicely with time.
Connor Selby is not only a supreme guitarist with the vocal range of someone much older, he is a very accomplished songwriter for someone so young and relatively short on life experience. He has the confidence to perform every self written song from his 2018 debut release Made Up My Mind, during the course of two one hour sets.
Joe Anderton very animated, reminiscent of a young Steve Marriott has a great rapport with Rob Shearer on drums who in turn is constantly exchanging smiles with Fergie on bass. Connor very serious and why shouldn’t he be, he’s got the damned blues good Lord.. in spades. Nevertheless his band’s attempt to lighten the mood brings an occasional smile to the young man’s face.
We also enjoy slow blues such as This Old World with Connor letting loose with some fine guitar and Tired Of Wasting My Time which puts me in mind of early Van Morrison, the soulful feel of a new song Tell Me That You’re Sorry or classic rock in the shape of Help Me.
Another new song Good Ol’ Rock n Roll has the Paul Kossoff/Andy Frazer vibe of classic Free. Connor allows his friend Joe Anderton to showcase one of his songs, Angel (Heaven Sent) which reflects the diversity of this band as this reminds me of John Squires‘ Seahorses of the late 90s.
Connor closes the first set with three numbers that were recorded at Abbey Road Studios for an EP that was scheduled for release when he and Joe Anderton were due to support John Mayall last year. Unfortunately 88 year old Mayall was not well enough to tour and the EP has been shelved until the tour is rescheduled, hopefully later this year. Connor swapped Gibson Les Paul for acoustic and Anderton complimented him beautifully on his bright yellow Gretsch for I Can’t Let You Go. Anderton then employed his lap steel for The Man I Ought To Be before Connor went solo on Amelia, a tribute to his favourite songwriter, the great Nick Drake.
The second set, again opens with another from the album, See It Through an upbeat number that would have stood its ground during the late 60s British Blues Explosion period. Clapton’s influence presents itself with an excellent cover of Outside Woman Blues by Cream. Another cover, this time Eddie Boyd’s Five Long Years which has been covered by so many, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Buddy Guy to name just three. Selby certainly does it justice!
The Band puts its own spin on Cream’s interpretation of Robert Johnson’s Crossroads by slowing it down. Show Me A Sign, another new song, gives licence to the excellent Fergie Fulton to roam freely with his bass. One of Connor’s all time heroes, Ray Charles, is the source for another cover, Let’s Go Get Stoned.
The band was always going to get an encore following a standing ovation from the ever appreciative audience and an instrumental, Stepping Out, originally performed by Memphis Slim but more famously by John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton. An excellent evening in deepest South London and be sure to check out Connor Selby before he deservedly hits the big time. His feet are still firmly on the ground and he continues to jump off the rollercoaster to entertain the smaller venues.
Voting in this year’s UK Blues Awards will open on Monday 3rd February, 2020 and will close at midnight, Monday 17th February, 2020. The 2020 FORM UK Blues Awards Presentation will take place at Dingwalls, 11 Middle Yard, Camden Lock, London NW1 8AB on Sunday 17th May 2020 with MC Paul Jones in charge.
Photography and words by Phil Honley of Connor Selby at The Tuesday Night Music Club on Tuesday 28th January 2020. Phil has his own photography site here: http://www.gigsnapz.co.uk.